Monday, 6 January 2014

Blog Chain

Firstly, thanks to Tracy Fells (read her blog at for inviting me to take part in a blog chain, where I have to answer a series of set questions. So here goes:

1. What Am I Working On?
Well, I’m one of these people who has several projects on the go at any one time. I like to think this improves my productivity. When I get bored with one, I can swap to something else. So, what projects am I currently working on? My nearest deadline is for an article I’m writing for a website of a large investment management company. (And, yes, as its an investment management company, they’re paying me to write something for their website.) It draws upon my experience working for a high street bank over 17 years ago. So, never think that old experiences can’t be drawn upon. They can! I’m also working on two short stories at the moment, one of which is 2,000 words, the other will work out nearer 700 I think. I’m also in the process of chasing responses from companies like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble for an idea I had over Christmas that could generate at least two articles. And then there is the novel … which is currently standing at 106,000 words and is not finished, but I’m in the process of reviewing what I’ve written so far because I’ve just worked out which bits need cutting! Oh yes, and I’m also working on some promotional articles and pieces for my new book coming out at the end of March (of which you’ll be hearing more of!).

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
Hmmmm, that’s an interesting one. Like Tracy, I’m not sure I work specifically to genres, I just enjoy writing what I write. If you look at my books you’ll see there is a humorous element to many of them, and this carries across in some of articles and short stories too. A lot of the time I like trying different genres because of the challenge. Last year I went to a social event of the Outdoor Writers and Photographer’s Guild, and the topic of ‘what other sorts of things do you write’ came up during the meal, and whilst many outdoor writers also write about other non-fiction subject matters, most didn’t venture into fiction. So when I mentioned I sometimes sit down and write a short story for the women’s magazine market, many thought me completely strange! But then many of you already know that!

3. Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because I do! I think all of us have a need to explain or explore something, which we do through our writing. When I’m writing travel pieces I want to share a place with the reader and explore it with them too. If I’m writing a piece of non-fiction that discusses a complicated topic I want to explain it in a way that everyone will understand.Tracy says that she wouldn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a writer of a specific genre, and in some ways, neither do I. I like exploring my ideas. I always thinks its worrying when writers have an idea, because other people might think, “Well, where in their brain did that idea come from?” And woe betide anyone trying to work out how a writer’s brain works, especially mine. I’m just grateful I have ideas and I try to do something with them!

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?
I often begin to develop my ideas in my notebook first. (Yes, in one of my many beloved Moleskine notebooks!) I will start writing and then when I encounter a problem I’ll stop, leave a line and then start writing again, but this time I’ll be writing about the problem. Sometimes I continue writing until I come up with a solution and then I go back and pick up where I left off. (If ever someone discovers my notebooks in two hundred years’ time they’ll be thoroughly confused. then again, if anyone read my notebooks tomorrow, they’d be thoroughly confused!) When I have a first draft sort of sorted, then I transfer to computer. I use Literature and Latte’s Scrivener programme (,  which I love. (This blog posting is even written in Scrivener.)

I then print out this version and leave it for a day or so, to give myself a break. Sometimes a piece of text only needs minor amendments, other times it needs complete rewriting. If it doesn’t work, I’ll take to my Moleskine notebook and start writing - free writing - thinking about why it doesn’t work and what do I need to do to make it work. Sometimes a piece of text will go through several drafts like this. I rarely give up on a piece. It may end up completely different to how I first imagined it, but I usually try to get something out of everything I write, even if it is simply a reader’s letter. After reviewing and editing (which includes reading it out aloud), I then send it off into the big wide world … with my fingers crossed.

Well, I hope you found that interesting. I’m delighted to say that three of my friends have agreed to keep the chain rolling. They’ll be posting their answers to these questions next week (13th January) on their own blogs. My baton is being passed to:

Rob Innis
Rob Innis writes about his Expat adventures in Spain, exploring new regions and covering a range of topics. Published monthly in magazines and online, he has a successful eBook ‘Spain Exposed’ and has appeared in many popular anthologies.

Julie Phillips
Julie Phillips is a writer of articles, short stories and has a non-fiction book: The Writers' Group Handbook out 28th Feb 2014. She has been published in both the UK and Australia and soon in the USA. She also founded the Facebook Page Bring Back Fiction to Women's Magazines and has two blogs on BlogSpot.

Diane Perry
Diane Perry is the author of the successful One Hundred Ways For A Chicken To Train Its Human, published by Hodder & Stoughton, and she also writes articles. Last year she self-published her children’s novel, Red Kite.

Good Luck!


  1. What a terrific post, Simon, I really enjoyed this. And THANK YOU for passing on the blog baton so expertly. I'm intrigued to hear you're also writing a novel, and a long one, perhaps you can share more about that some other time. Best wishes for a very successful writing year :)

    1. Hi Tracy,

      They were interesting questions, weren't they? I liked your comment about not being straight-jacketted into a genre (I tried posting on your blog but my computer didn't seem to like what i was doing!). It's nice to write anything - i think that stretches the mind ... well, it certainly challenges it a bit more!


  2. Glad you were able to carry on the chain I handed over to Tracy last week. Fascinating answers... We work so differently. I would love to have a peek at those notebooks!

    1. Hi Wendy,

      Yes, it's interesting to see how we all do things differently, isn't it? And yeah, the notebook collection is growing quite well now!